Friday, January 16, 2009

Starting Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology

This was the first week of my clinical pharmacology and toxicology rotation. There are three of us on the rotation: an emergency medicine resident from Metro, a fourth year from the UP, and me. It was kind of a funny week, because the attending was out of town. He had left us a packet of questions to do, and he also wanted us to spend some time listening to the poison control nurses field calls. Other than that, we were pretty much on our own. We also took pictures to get University Hospital badges, which we still haven't gotten. The stupid part is that the badge expires at the end of the month, and I'm coming back to UH in March for my radiology rotation. But they said I'd just have to get another one then.

These questions are pretty hard. The poison control nurse I worked with commented that they were similar to the questions she had on her certification exam. I listened to calls with her for two days. Most of them were for pill checks, where people magically find some unlabeled pill and call the poison control center to get it identified. First of all, it would never occur to me to call the poison control center if I found a weird pill. Second of all, who just takes pills that random people give them? Most of the legitimate calls were either for toddlers who got into medications and household products, or for adolescents and adults who were trying to commit suicide. Amazingly, a lot of people try to commit suicide by overdosing on acetaminophen (Tylenol). That's an incredibly bad way to kill yourself. It takes three or four days for you to die of liver failure, and you feel really, really bad the whole time: excruciating stomach pain, nausea, vomiting.

Today's seminar was on meta-analysis. This one might have been the very worst of all, not the least of which because it went over time due to yet another ridiculous and pointless group activity. I hate to be rude, because I know these people are giving us their time. But there has to be some less painful way for us to learn this material.

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